"What's the world for you if you can't make it up the way you want."

-Jazz, Toni Morrison


A Passing Sound

A Passing Sound

The falling sun looks like bitten lemon cake,
the words ethereal and ephemeral have been 
confused yet again, and I have decided that for 
my birthday dessert I want etymology, and 
for spring I want not one more death falling 

into my mother’s practical hands. She’ll never 
be still and yet she holds. My father spends
his mornings translating haikus, all those winter
bones, Japanese cats, jellyfish melting in palms.
Good translations, yet when he says that

my mother cried, it never translates into a picture
in my mind. But he believes that you can 5-7-5
your way into both grief and happiness. Make
sweetness out of rotting roots. And even though

you love the chaos of bird song, could never
assign it a syllable count to make it improve,
it is still helpful sometimes to imagine that
5-7-5 makes for a better sounding world.

My mother lives on a mountain between
birdsong and haiku: untangling the chaos,
finding the syllables that matter, letting fly away
those that can be let go.


Aya Elizabeth is an artist, bookseller, and poet living in the San Francisco Bay Area. Her work has appeared in or is forthcoming in Crab Orchard Review, Typishly, The Write Launch, Up The Staircase Quarterly, Habitat Magazine, Delmarva Review, Twyckenham Notes, Third Point Press, Bluestem, Zone 3, and Cagabi.

Cover photo by W R on Unsplash

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